While the Detroit Red Wings took a much-needed day off Thursday, the Chicago Blackhawks worked on getting even better before Game 2.
That’s a scary thought for the Wings, who were badly outplayed in Game 1 after the first period.
But the Blackhawks, who have every right to feel confident after dispatching the Minnesota Wild in five games and winning the Presidents Trophy with ease in the regular season, still aren’t taking the Wings lightly.
“You still have to be careful,” Patrick Kane told reporters in Chicago Thursday. “It’s always been a big rivalry. It’s a team we always get up to play against, to really judge yourself how good your team is, because they’re always one of the best teams in the West.
“Against them, we haven’t beaten them in the playoffs or a seven-game series, so we’re looking to do that.”
Wings coach Mike Babcock said he could tell in practice Tuesday that his team didn’t have any jump, that their seven-game series with Anaheim and the back-and-forth trips to the West Coast had taken their toll.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville expects to face a different team in Game 2.
“I expect them to be better for sure,” Quenneville said. “I think that those Western trips back and forth add up, as well.
“I was more concerned about how we were going to be approaching that game, being off (after quickly eliminating the Wild). We were ready.”
Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said that the last time the Blackhawks played the Wings in the playoffs, back in 2009, the roles were reversed.
“I was in the playoffs for the first time, and we went to the conference finals against the team that was used to winning Cups,” Toews said. “There’s a huge difference there. The core group of guys, the leaders in our locker room, they have that experience that maybe they didn’t have the last time around.
“We’ve definitely come a long way.”
One player the Blackhawks expect to be better for the Red Wings in Game 2 is Pavel Datsyuk, who didn’t register a shot in Game 1 — something not likely to happen again.
“He’s still a threat, no matter what situation he’s presented with,” Quenneville said. “He’s one of those players that nobody else can (imitate).
“He does things that can ‘wow’ you, and that’s an ongoing challenge. He’s one of those dangerous players that we always got to make an awareness of when he’s on the ice.”
Even before reaching the NHL, Kane was aware of Datsyuk and watching as a fan.
“He plays both ends of the ice so well, and he’s very creative with the puck, makes plays that not a lot of guys are able to do,” Kane said. “The biggest thing with him is the respect factor he has from other teams.
“He gets that time and space because you don’t want to rush at him because he can make you look stupid. He’s a great player, fun to watch.”
The Wings hope to be more fun for their fans to watch in Game 2.
The Blackhawks, on the other hand, would prefer a repeat of Game 1.
“As long as I’ve been a Blackhawk, we always say that the Red Wings are kind of the measuring stick for our team,” Toews said. “And I think that hasn’t changed a bit.
“We’re off to a good start in this series, but we got a long way to go. We know that’s a team that’s never going to give up.
“We got some momentum going, we got to keep that up in Game 2.”